(RNS) For too long the church has buried its head in the sand with regard to issues relating to sexuality, says the author of a new book about sex, and he believes the decision of some Christian bookstores to ban his book proves it.
"When you start talking about holy and sex, it irritates people," said Terry Wier, whose book "Holy Sex" (Whitaker House) was published in October. "The church has just decided not to deal with the issue of sexuality. They don't want to know it's there, but that does not make it go away."
Some Christian bookstores -- including LifeWay Christian Stores and Family Christian Stores -- have refused to sell the book, objecting to its front and back covers. Both depict a nude scene from the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican in Rome, illustrating the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden.
One customer, who bought a copy of the book for her adult son, reportedly used white paper to hide the covers.
A representative for LifeWay Christian Stores said the book's cover did cause some concern for the bookstore chain, but he would not specify why.
"We make buying decisions based on a lot of different things," said the representative, who wished to remain anonymous. "The cover was a consideration, but we look at a lot of different things -- typical retail sales, how many product units we think will sell, things like that."
But Wier said the book's cover only emphasizes the intimacy between a wife and husband, and shows that sexuality is not a shameful matter.
"Shame came from sin, not sexuality," he said. "Genesis says Adam and his wife Eve were in the garden and they were naked and not ashamed. God did not bring shame to sexuality."
Wier, who co-pastors a bilingual, nondenominational church in Dallas with his wife, Phyllis, said he wrote the book to help people gain a better understanding of their own sexuality. He wants readers to "recognize the holiness of sex."
"If God created everything and everything he creates is good, then why is sex supposed to be so bad?" asked Wier, co-pastor of the Isaiah Worship Center since 1996. "The intimacy of a married couple is a good way to explain to us the intimacy of the Trinity and to explain Christ's level of intimacy with the church. From Genesis to Revelation, God was the groom and he referred to Israel as the bride, and when people chased other gods he called them adulterers. Christ is the groom, and the church is the bride. It's all about intimacy."
The church is haunted by widespread sexual problems, especially adultery, divorce, premarital sex and homosexuality, said Wier, and poorly trained church leaders add to the problem.
"The vast majority of seminaries don't address real sexual issues, so we have church leaders in all denominations who have no idea what to think or feel about sexual issues," he said, adding that 15 years of experience ministering to people with sexual problems heightened his awareness of the number of Christians dealing with such issues.
"The more you say, `I don't want to deal with pedophiles,' the more you'll have pedophiles in the nursery. ... It's that simple."
Wier said he has heard from a number of individuals and church leaders from a range of faiths -- including Catholics, Lutherans and Methodists -- who want to buy copies of the book.
Despite the controversy, he thinks his message of open and frank discussion about sexuality is being heard.
"Any time there's a major shift in people's thinking it always takes time," he said. "There was a time when nobody wanted a drug addict in church -- now there are drug ministries and nobody thinks twice about it. You'll see a whole generation of people who will read this and realize the intimacy of relationships the way God intended, and they're going to want that. I think the sex issue is now where the drug issue was 30 years ago -- it's going to take a fight, but people will realize we have to talk about it."